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Gary Lineker has defended Premier League footballers from scathing attacks over them not taking immediate pay cuts amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Football has been suspended across Europe, including the Premier League, as governments try to slow down the spread of infection from the pandemic.
Clubs in England's top-flight league have been heavily criticised for cutting non-playing staff's wages while not reducing footballers' hefty incomes.
Lineker, 59, has now argued that footballers should have more time to respond themselves before they're subjected to fierce criticism.
"It's now up to the players how they respond, let's give them a chance to respond, before this hugely judgmental pile-on that we always get nowadays," the former England striker told Sky News on Thursday.
"Football is always an easy target but where are the big businessmen, where are the CEOs of these enormous companies, what are they doing at the moment?
"Nobody ever seems to care about them but footballers, who do an unbelievable amount of good in the community that never gets reported, who do lots of things to raise awareness during this dreadfully difficult time.
"So let's wait and see, and see what they do. I'll be the first to criticise them if they do nothing."
Labour MP David Lammy condemned Premier League footballers for not taking pay cuts or deferrals in a social media post.
The 47-year-old tweeted on Thursday: "It's criminal that Premier League footballers haven't moved more quickly to take pay cuts and deferrals.
"And completely wrong that taxpayers are now being asked to subsidise cleaners, caterers and security guards at these clubs instead."
However, Lineker has hit back at Lammy and once again reiterated his point at allowing footballers to have the chance to make the decision first.
The Match of the Day presenter responded: "It's not criminal. Fact is players are not training together so meetings would take rime [sic] to organise.
"I'm positive most of them will want to do something to help but don't know how, or worry about treading a lonely path. Let's give them a chance to act before we all weigh in."
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley received widespread backlash after his club halted their staff's wages and put them on temporary leave.
And Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has also been slammed for making all 550 non-playing staff take a 20 per cent pay cut.
Elsewhere in Europe, Atletico Madrid have announced that their entire squad will have 70 per cent of their pay slashed to help sustain the salaries for the club's non-playing staff.
And Barcelona, who are currently on top of La Liga, have also had their players take up a similar measure to help the club through the tough period.
The return date for the Premier League is scheduled for 30th April, but that deadline date could be pushed back to next month.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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